• Students sitting and talking in the Sol Center lobby lounge, USU

USU Assessment

About Us

University Student Union (USU) Assessment takes a comprehensive approach to discovery as it pertains to the achievement of USU strategic priorities, facility improvements, programming effectiveness, the student employee experience and student learning. 

USU assessment is an “…ongoing, systematic process of collecting, analyzing, and using information about divisional, departmental, and programmatic effectiveness…” (Upcraft & Schuh, 1996; Anderson, Bresciani, & Zelna, 2004). Aligned with university goals and the Division of Student Affairs Long-Term Strategic Priorities, the objective is to use evidence to enhance effectiveness (Upcraft & Schuh, 1996) and to measure whether engaged learning as part of a co-curricular experience is taking place (Learning Reconsidered, 2004).

Our Mission Statement

The mission of USU Assessment is to promote a culture of assessment and to identify needs, measure outcomes, narrow gaps, and utilize data-informed decision-making to improve the quality of experiences, programs and services that support the mission of the USU.

Our Values

  • Accountability
  • Continuous Quality Improvement
  • Excellence 
  • Integrity
  • Learning
  • Practicality 
  • Transparency

The Assessment Plan

The plan for assessment for the University Student Union includes direct and indirect measures for learning. Historically, the USU has relied heavily on indirect measurements (questionnaires, focus groups, Likert charts, and interviews) to determine the impact of its programs and services. Direct measurements have been used consistently though less frequently through annual standardized exams associated with legal issues, sexual harassment and annual performance appraisal assessments issued by Human Resources. Corporate wide, student employees have participated in direct measures since the 2009–10 academic year via a self-paced online Email Etiquette training and assessment. Direct measures also have been included as part of the USU’s Student Summit, a conference created on site for the organization’s 400 plus student employees. Each presenter provides learning outcomes from which direct measure questions are created for participants.

At the department level, several USU departments have engaged in behavioral observations and department-based exams to measure employee learning (e.g., campus resources knowledge exams for new-hire student guest services assistants).

The 2017–18 academic year initiated the shift toward the intentional use of more direct measures throughout the organization. Over the next three years through academic year 2019–20, the USU will create at least one direct measures instrument for its most impactful learning-based student and staff employment trainings. While indirect measurements will continue to be used, this intentional addition will add to the body of knowledge of what is learned at the USU and will drive training program design and revisions.


2017–18: Student Recreation Center (Emergency Preparedness)
2018–19: USU Human Resources (Employment Impact)
2019–20: USU Operations (The Customer Service Experience)

Responsible Staff

The USU’s Acting Assistant Director of Administration and Technology is responsible for driving the plan. The manager is supported by the Coordinator of Assessment and Special Initiatives, as well as by a student Assessment Assistant who collaborate currently with approximately one-third of the USU’s department managers, coordinators and supervisors who routinely assess.


The acting assistant director and coordinator collaborate with student affairs assessment professionals from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), the Association of College Unions International (ACUI), the American College Personnel Association (ACPA), the American Evaluation Association (AEA) and CampusLabs to design instruments. The USU Executive Director and the Associate Executive Director have established collaborations with the CSUN Office of Institutional Research.


The acting assistant director and coordinator will take advantage of assessment-based online trainings, conferences, books, higher education professionals, mentors, courses and certifications to learn and expand their skill sets. The acting assistant director and coordinator will mentor department managers about assessment design, reporting, evaluation and intervention improvements.


Key assessment results will be shared with stakeholders through the USU annual report and routine assessment website updates. 

Next Steps

  1. Share assessment results in an engaging way with assessment participants
  2. Use assessment results to inform participants where they are learning through the USU employment experience
  3. Support managers in encouraging student employees to make connections between their USU employment experience and their:
    1. Campus engagement
    2. Persistence to graduation
    3. Professional preparation

The USU Assessment Cycle: How We Do It!

A needs assessment is a systematic exploration of the way things are and the way things should be. 

These “things” are usually associated with organizational and/or individual performance. 1 The process we use in creating a strong assessment follows an intentional and reflective process of design, implementation, evaluation and revision.

The following graphic shows how the USU Assessment Cycle is built on seven distinct, but interrelated actions that we utilize in improving our programs and services. It also illustrates that assessment is a continuous process. After revised outcomes are implemented and student learning evaluated, it follows an ongoing process that may lead to further improvement. In addition, assessment is again carried out at the completion of developmental activities to determine the extent of the resulting progress and achievement.

1 Stout, D., "Performance Analysis for Training" 

USU Assessment Cycle: Establish Goal or Outcome, Determine Assessment Plan, Deliver Program or Instruction, Collect Data, Analyze Data, Use/Share Results, Improve Program or Instruction